Monday, January 27, 2014

SNAP Challenge Day 1

Lydia and Zach decided to join with Central Presbyterian in eating for one week at the poverty line: $4.40 per person per day. For ease of planning we are working from a budget of $52.80, as we are participating for 6 days and will spread that cost over the 6 days - day-to-day costs will fluctuate, but the goal is to live on $52.80 for the five days, an average of $4.40 per person per day.  

We asked ourselves:
How do you eat well and also for very little money?

Our response: 
Eat like the rest of the world eats. 

We went to Whole Foods to shop. Yes, Whole Foods. You'd be surprised how competitive they are on certain items. You may not be surprised how much more costly it is to buy packaged items at King's or Safeway versus bulk lentils and beans and rice at Whole Foods. 

Here's what we were able to purchase for $27.56 at Whole Paycheck (aka Whole Foods):

  • A large container of organic 365 brand whole milk yogurt.
  • Various produce items: a large yellow onion, a small organic cauliflower, organic broccoli, yellow organic potatoes, and a large organic yam.  Oh, and one pink grapefruit, the one piece of fruit we added to our purchase, an expensive indulgence at $1.79 for one!
  • Lots of bulk items, many of which were on sale, including dried black beans, organic red lentils, organic french lentils, organic brown rice, and organic rolled oats.  
  • Two packages of tortillas; 2 dozen for just under $2.00.

We learned a helpful tip at WF: they will cut off your broccoli stems or cut out the core of your cauliflower (or at least our produce person did), reducing the weight and the over cost of these items sold at price per pound.

And, we bought the least expensive coffee we could find:

This can of coffee was $2.00. 

A simple breakfast this morning of oats and coffee.  We did use some leftover milk and brown sugar in our house, but we are tracking the costs of these items and will total them at the end of the week to see how we fare.

Zach's Lunch

This was my plate of food for lunch (1/27). Two tacos: 1/16 of my leftover Indian meal from Sherpa's ($.75 cents added to our budget). Three thin slices of sharp cheddar cheese from a block of cheese we already had in the fridge (add $.20 cents to budget). Half of an avocado. Sprouts (add $.15 cents to budget). Dollop of plain yogurt. Ramekin of black beans (cooked in a Crock-Pot the previous night). 

Lydia's Lunch
Abiding by the $4.50 per day becomes tricky when you go to a workplace overflowing with free food and beverages.  Here are some of the FREE items I encounter at my office: teas and coffee; coke, diet coke, and gatorades; various bowls of candy; a bowl of mixed nuts; small bags of chips; half of a cookie that my boss offers to me after his lunch; and, sometimes leftover lunch or breakfast items from catered meals.   All of this plentiful food for just showing up at work.  Amazing the items we take for granted in an average day and week.   

Often, as mentioned above, I have lunch at work for no cost, but to immerse myself in our weeklong commitment, I brought my lunch to work, and it was quite delicious -- two tortillas, black beans, sprouts, hard boiled eggs, and mustard and mayo.  To be fair, I found the mustard and mayo packets in the kitchen at work (leftover from a previously catered lunch) and the eggs were free from our backyard chickens.  Lunch was great and probably one of the cheapest that I've eaten in years.  


Natty Light is approximately $.60 cents a can. We just happen to have a few cans leftover from New Year's Eve party (one of our beer savvy friends brought it to the party).  Add $1.20 to the budget (Lydia and Zach both had a Natural Light with dinner - Lydia added a lime to hers add $.05 to budget). 

Tacos for dinner. Two times in one day? You bet!

Tacos included: Corn tortillas, sauteed red onion (1/4 of an onion used; add $.25 to budget), 4 crimini mushrooms (add $.50), black beans, rice, yogurt, 8 peppercinis (add $.25), avocado (used 1/2; add $.50 to budget), 4 slices of cheese (add $.30 to budget). 

That's a day. We're satiated. 

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